5 Steps to Making Improvements

It’s easy to decide to change.   The challenging part is actually taking action.

Sometimes we want to take action, but we’re immobilized because we don’t know where to start or what the next step is that we should be taking.  Below are some steps I’ve taken at work this year to change my contribution so I could start using the talents and skills I possess to better serve my customers and have a more fulfilling work experience.  These steps have worked well for me, so I thought I’d share them with the readers of this blog, in hopes they will do the same for you.

Step 1.  Identify what skills you have that you want to develop and use more, and begin improving your knowledge in this area.

For me, this was in the area of data visualization.  I enjoy turning data into useful interactive information that helps business people make better decisions.  Therefore, I began reading and learning about best practices and techniques to do this well.

Keep in mind that the process of building your skills and increasing your knowledge is an ongoing process of learning.  As you move through the other steps, you’ll continually be coming back to this step.

Step 2.  Identify a need that your skills can fill or a problem they can solve.

Here is where you begin looking for opportunities where you can apply your skills to solve a real problem.  For me, this was in the area of displaying our operational data in a visual format that was clear and easy for business people to access and understand.

Step 3.  Begin applying your skills to create a solution to the problem you’ve identified.

This is where your knowledge gets stretched and where you rapidly grow your experience and begin to master the skills you’re applying.  Once you start applying your skills, you realize, there’s a lot you don’t know, so you learn as you go.

I dove right in and started using a tool called QlikView to build applications that displays our data in a clear interactive format that would give people a view of our business, through operational data, that they’ve never had before.  I often refered to books, the Internet, or other colleagues for information and insight in order to solve the numerous problems I encountered.

Step 4.  Share your initial solution with others and get their input. Make changes based on the input you receive and then present those changes back to them.

Once I had an application built, I showed it to the business users.  While they liked what they initially saw, they had suggestions of what they really would also like to see that I hadn’t included.  I went back, made those changes, along with some others that were sparked during our conversations.

This is an iterative process.  Continue until your solution is complete.

Step 5.  Go back to step 1 or 2 and repeat the process.

Once I had created a solution for one area of our business, I looked at other areas that would benefit from similar measurement and visualization tools and repeated the process as described above.

This has been a great year for me at work, as I feel I’m making real contributions that are positively impacting my organization and helping people get more clear answers than they’ve ever had before.

If there’s an area in your life, be it professional or personal, that you want to make a change, try employing the steps listed above.  They provide a flexible guideline that will create order and direction.

The only thing required from us is action.

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